A Chinese New Year Resolution?

2015_NewYear1

The above artwork is from Android Jones, an amazing artist whom you should look into. This particular piece is a reference to the year of the ram or goat, which began on February 19th of this year.

It’s on that note that, as of late, I’ve been thinking a great deal about why people make a new year’s resolution at the worst possible time of the year. I mean, I get the symbolism of choosing the restart of the calendar, but the practical timing of it makes it very difficult to maintain one’s personal integrity. On the east coast of the states, it gets cold and dark. And we tend to make these promises of working out and taking better care of ourselves when we’re the least likely to actually do these acts.

Winter, man. That’s when we’re encouraged to eat food that will stick to our ribs and stay inside. I suppose it wouldn’t be a bad time to make an intellectual or spiritual pursuit. But physically? It makes more sense to wait rather than to punish oneself. Why not wait until after the winter is over? I’ve started jogging again and it feels phenomenal.

I’ve also been indulging in some self-improvement. I’ve been brushing up on my tech skills and trying to catch up on my pop culture knowledge. Recently I’ve been trying to finish reading John Steakley’s most memorable novel, Armor. On the surface level, the description reads like a rehash of Starship Troopers. But once you dive in, it’s one third psychological horror and war, with two thirds space piracy meets The Catcher in the Rye. Yeah, you read that correctly. But weird as that sounds, it works. Very well. I’ll probably discuss this in detail tomorrow.

I’ve also been trying to watch some classic movies I haven’t seen before. Recently, it was The French Connection starring Gene Hackman and based on a non-fictional events involving detective Eddie Egan. I was surprised how well the crime movie holds up to modern standards despite being released in 1971. As it’s available for streaming off of Netflix, I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it check it out.

Alternative Composers to Hans Zimmer

Once upon a time, I did interviews for the Bolthole. It was a little site primarily dedicated to Warhammer and 40k stories from the Black Library, and we interviewed many of the authors who did work in those franchises. Early on, one of the questions I tended to ask was simply, “Is there any music you prefer to listen to while writing?”

And unfortunately, the answer was rarely more creative than Hans Zimmer.

Zimmer is a terrific composer, no one can easily deny that. But his name is simply too easy to spurt out because it’s what other people say. And in doing so, authors looking for some great tunes might easily pass up the chance to find composers who produce music that better fits their genres and style.

But of course, not if they’re reading my blog…

Ramin Djawadi

“Why does that name sound a little familiar?” you maybe asking yourself. It’s understandable. I mean, once the credits are on the screen, we usually zone out. So you might have missed his name in the opening titles of HBO’s Game of Thrones or Pacific Rim. Ramin Djawadi is just one of those up and coming types who might someday replace Zimmer as the name most associated with great musical scores. His style is best described as bombastic with a hint of the kind of powerful overtures that sweep us into some grander, often national conflict.

Thomas Bergersen

Funny fact. Just because Hans Zimmer did all the music in a movie doesn’t mean he did all the music for said movie. Enter the amazing work of Thomas Bergersen, who did this tune for one of Interstellar’s trailers. The co-founder of the famous production company Two Steps from Hell, Bergersen has composed some of the most emotionally dramatic pieces you’ll probably ever listen to. For amazing tunes, check out his albums SkyWorld and Sun.

Adrian von Ziegler

Unlike Djawadi, there’s an excellent chance you haven’t heard of Swiss composer, Adrian von Ziegler. In fact, he’s unlike almost everyone else on this list. He hasn’t really been involved on any major movie, game or television scores. Instead, he has achieved famed through sheer, raw talent and use of Youtube which you can check out freely.

Jason Graves

One glance as Graves’ prominent works list on Wikipedia makes it clear that the man has basically been everywhere in the gaming world, with more than a couple of dozens titles under his belt. However, his most significant works are likely for EA’s Dead Space series and the recently rebooted Tomb Raider series. Horror lovers may find a kinship with his work.

Basil Poledouris

But not every composer worth checking out has to be current. Basil Poledouris is a name associated with several unforgettable films in the 80s, including the first two Conan the Barbarian films and the Robocop series. The 90s were not without mentions either, expressing a diverse range of genre matching with Starship Troopers, Hot Shots: Part Deux and Free Willy.

Ennio Morricone

If you know what spaghetti westerns are, then you know who Ennio Morricone is. Made famous alongside movie western star Clint Eastwood, Morricone’s most unforgettable work can be found in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, in the piece “The Ecstasy of Gold.” His work is so powerful, it has been reused very often in other great films, including five by Quentin Tarantino.

Kenji Kawai

Chances are that only anime lovers would know the unusual and mysterious work of Kenji Kawai. But there’s a haunting, unforgettable element to his style that transcends any cultural barriers or genres. His best works may be in the form of the first two Patlabor movies as well as the Ghost in the Shell titles.

Yoko Kanno

Now while Kenji Kawai maybe known only to anime lovers, there’s a better chance that more people have heard the fantastic pieces of Yoko Kanno. This woman has no limits, and is capable of blending  blues, jazz and pop into an unbelievable and infectious fusion. Notable works include Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Macross Plus. But best of all the soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop, which is so critical acclaimed, even people who normally turn up their noses to anime may own it.

Chappie Review

Chappie2Yesterday, I was treated to an advanced showing of Neill Blomkamp’s latest movie, Chappie. The March 6th release of the film seems intended to reproduce the success of other pre-summer blockbusters, such as 300 and Iron Man. As of late, I have begun to wonder if the entire concept of the summer blockbuster as a seasonal occurrence can be challenged, especially given American Sniper‘s outstanding financial performance. But that is a question to be answered this weekend.

Part Robocop and part Short Circuit, Chappie takes place in the South African city of Johannesburg, where crime, civil unrest and easy access to assault weaponry have made it tough for the human police force. But Tetra Vaal, a robotics company, has reversed the situation with the Scouts; man-sized droids with titanium shells to shrug off gunfire, and well written rudimentary behavior for handling violent criminal offenders.

This review will cover the early plot hooks of Chappie but otherwise avoid spoilers.

The Opening Act

During the opening act, the Scouts are called into action against a fleeing gang run by Ninja and Yolandi (Watkin Tudor Jones and Yolandi Visser of the rap-rave group Die Antwoord) and their buddy Yankie/Amerika (Jose Pablo Cantillo). Ninja’s gang meets up with local crime warlord Hippo (Brandon Auret) for a drug drop-off, but an earlier encounter with the police destroyed the goods. Because of Ninja’s failure, Hippo threatens his life unless Ninja delivers 20 million South African Rands in 7 days.

Just then the Scouts arrive with human police back up. Ninja, Yolandi and Amerika escape during the ensuing firefight, but receive a call from Hippo as they return to their hideout, who ensures them that his threats are still valid. Yolandi floats the idea of kidnapping Tetra Vaal’s lead developer, and forcing him to shutdown the Scouts in preparation for a heist to pay off Hippo, and save their lives.

At Tetra Vaal, that lead developer is Deon Wilson (Dev Patel), who is celebrated for the huge success of the robotic police units. But Deon’s success came at cost to Vincent Moore (Hugh Jackman), whose mentally-controlled walking tank “The Moose” has seen its yearly budget slashed repeatedly by their boss Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver), and has yet to win the interest of the Johannesburg police.

But Deon has a greater vision for his creations. And after nine years of development, he has finally created what he believes is a true artificial intelligence software package. Against Michelle’s rejections due to insurance risks, Deon steals both the guardian chip and the ruined pieces of Scout 22 (voiced by Sharlto Copley) despite warnings that damage had sealed 22’s battery to his chassis, preventing replacement. The guardian chip is needed to install updates to the Scouts, and its disappearance is discovered by Vincent.

On Deon’s way home however, Ninja’s gang kidnap him. Ninja is infuriated that the Scouts cannot be shut down. However, Amerika discovers the remains of Scout 22. The gang changes tact, wanting Deon to reprogram the damaged droid for use during their heist. Deon, seeing this as his best and perhaps only chance to try his program, installs the A.I. package, turning Scout 22 into the scared, nubile robot whom Yolandi christens Chappie…

Chappie1

The Talking Points

It was fun to see how Blomkamp and screenwriter Terri Tatchell thwarted half of my previous theories about the direction Chappie would take. Although it began quite predictably, it didn’t take too long for it to get off the beaten path and venture into more interesting territory. Chappie’s adoption into Ninja’s gang (a major portion of the movie) reminds me of a scene from Short Circuit 2 when Johnny 5 is initiated into a carjacking gang after stealing an entire car parked street’s worth of stereos.

Chappie tries and succeeds at stealing our hearts. He is fun to watch and equally as touching, hanging onto Ninja, Amerika and Yolandi’s every word and doing as he’s told with childish enthusiasm. Yolandi provides the maternal care for Chappie’s well being and although she is aware of the need to commit the heist, she worries for the safety of her shy child. Yolandi’s kind words keep Chappie from ever going into the “I’m different in a bad way” depressive streak that Johnny 5 did, which allows more focus on Chappie’s efforts to really fit in.

But while Yolandi acts as a mother figure, Ninja and Deon become his father and creator respectively and provide contrasting philosophies. Ninja, being the hard born gangster type, tries to instill the street scarred alpha male mentality to keep Chappie alive.

Chappie3Deon however, is more concerned about the long term spiritual impact this will have upon his creation. This proves challenging, as Deon is cast in a role comparable to God, and becomes the target of Chappie’s questions and existential frustrations when he discovers that his battery’s limited lifespan foretells a mortal’s death.

Hundreds, if not thousands of technical details make Chappie come to life on the screen, from the shapes his pixel eyes take, to his voice, to the subtleties of his body language. Many of these elements would be lost on the reduced television budget, and without these tiny wonders, Chappie would not have the heart it does.

But Chappie as a movie is perhaps too ambitious, which prompts mixed feelings. The plot seemed too large for a movie and left several plot wrinkles and holes. Modern films face stiff competition from the story-telling of television, which command bigger and better plots and more time to build genuine transitions of any given situation. This showed in a scene where Hippo decides to start trouble, and the city instantly goes into a full-scale riot.

Another point of disappointment has to be the character Vincent Moore. Despite Hugh Jackman’s impressive acting abilities, Deon’s villainous rival seemed little more than a half baked right-wing caricature. In one scene, the former soldier insists on the superiority of human moral judgment before making extremely violent threats in the workplace against a coworker with a pistol. Then he tries to pass it off as a joke and extends an invitation to attend church, as if the jest’s poor taste and lack of workplace disciplining wasn’t enough. While Vincent’s resentment of Deon’s success was founded early, there never seems to be any further character development than that. Jackman’s character never has a chance to really be understood by the audience.

The ED-209 or TX-55 inspired Moose, Vincent’s creation, also doesn’t strike me as well thought out. The walking tank was too large to enter regular buildings. Its weaponry, which included cluster bombs and a pair of disemboweling scissors, strike me as egregious human rights violations, even when police would be authorized to use lethal force. While the situation is tough on the streets of this fictional Johannesburg, I doubt that a real company would have wasted funds building a prototype for the police with such excessive firepower. Much less allowing it passed the business proposal stage.

The Verdict

Chappie4Despite its faults, Chappie is more good than bad. It carries a solid mix of heart, thought and potential that generally overcomes weaknesses in the plot and some under developed characters.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if these problems will continue to be a growing issue with Blomkamp’s future work. District 9 is inevitably the one piece of science fiction to which all his titles has and will be compared, chiefly because of how it twisted an otherwise contentious political issue into something interesting and emotionally invested.

Between District 9, Elysium and now Chappie there seems to be a general decline in the quality of Blomkamp’s efforts. I certainly hope Chappie is the lowest point in Blomkamp’s expanding filmography.

Catch Chappie in theaters this Friday.

Comic Book Movies vs The Oscars

oscars-nominations-marvelI caught bits and pieces of the Oscars on Sunday while working hard on my novel. And based upon what I saw, heard and read both during and after, I can’t help but think this may have been the single most contentious year in the award show’s history.

The spectacle felt like it managed in someway to rile, vex or anger almost everyone at some point. And I don’t mean in the funny, early Family Guy way. Several political statements were made, ranging from Selma and racial diversity to pay gaps for women. Edward Snowden winning an Oscar for best documentary and a somewhat brow raising comment from Sean Penn involving Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu and a green card.

But to be fair, at least these statements were somewhat counter balanced by moments of emotional connection. Such as when J.K. Simmons pushed the audience to call their parents. Or when Dana Perry called for suicide awareness, and Graham Moore encouraged kids who are struggling to fit in and find a place in life to stay weird.

And then there were the good old fashioned disappointments, such as The Lego Movie not even being considered for best animated film (which went to Big Hero 6.) And despite an incredible showing at the box office, American Sniper lost to Birdman for best picture, which dismayed conservatives who loved Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper’s biopic about Sniper Chris Kyle.

I’ve actually seen both films. The fact that American Sniper is a biographical film kind of tempers my response, and not because it’s bad. It’s a fantastic film. But I loathed myself whenever I enjoyed watching it, as my conscience struck me with a rolled newspaper, shouting, “These events actually happened! How the hell can you say you are entertained by this movie?” Eastwood has crafted his best movie yet. But by walking the non-fiction line, the film demands respect that curbs one’s enthusiasm.

But I digress.

It is actually an intriguing coincidence that Birdman is about former superhero actor Riggan (Michael Keaton) who is trying to put together a Broadway performance to prove he can create art. The movie follows a pattern of high-personal drama storytelling, as the play’s previews always find a way to go wrong, inciting powerful, stressful and volatile reactions from the actors and producers involved. Riggan in particular wrestles with his alter ego Birdman who whispers old glories in his ear, and constantly urges him to return to the camera. All this, while play critic Tabitha Dickinson (Lindsay Duncan) desires to destroy Riggan’s efforts out of hatred for “movie star frauds,” adding to the already intense pressure.

That last point seems to hit a sensitive nerve both in the movie and reality. After the Oscars, Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn addressed some quips against superhero films that happened during the award show.

I feel that Gunn is only giving voice to a frustration that has been mounting for sometime in the film industry. As John Scalzi correctly pointed out in 2008, no superhero flick has ever been nominated for best picture. But against his prediction then that The Dark Knight might be nominated, the aforementioned fact remains true even today. Although Heath Ledger did posthumously receive the academy award for best supporting actor that year, it does feel like superhero movies aren’t exactly respected.

Guardians-of-the-GalaxyGuardians of the Galaxy is intriguing because it’s a great, fun and very successful film that has nearly reached cult status. I actually like it even more than The Avengers if you’d believe it, perhaps because Gunn united an ensemble cast built on no prior movies and still totally nailed it. Yet at the same time, many of the film’s fans love it a little too passionately, somehow giving it 110%, A+++. Thus despite how good the movie is already, they still found a way to make it impossibly overrated.

This is not a knock on Guardians of the Galaxy. I will probably catch its sequel opening day with a smile on my face. It’s just that the fans need to calm down a notch.

But it’s worth discussing. Guardians of the Galaxy was packed full of aliens who felt more human and more emotionally deep than most other characters we’ve seen on the big screen. Science fiction, horror and fantasy can be even more potent than drama, because those genres force us to explore the human reaction to events, technologies, politics and peoples that we may never normally interact with. So why is it that some look down on the mere attempt to explore our potential in a theoretical and thoroughly fictional context? Is it because they want the fiction to always mirror reality, for the masses to know the cultural elite’s struggle to make it in the industry?

I could certainly believe that latter point. In 2011, the films The Artist and Hugo both revolved around the struggle of an actor and movie director respectively. And both films did very, very well for themselves with the academy, as well as other award ceremonies. The insinuation that the winners should be those who best reflect the personal strife within the industry only adds fuel to the fire, and raises the timeless question of how we should define art.

But before I close out, I will say that Birdman was a very good film. Did it deserve best picture? I can’t even say. There’s no question in my mind that it deserved the nomination. But I will say it’s almost ironic… that the winner depicts some of the frustrations and grievances that Gunn, and many other genre defining directors, bear.

I Am Not Coal

Today, I am not proud of myself.

As of late, I’ve been looking for a new position. I loathe to admit that the situation at my current place of employment has depleted my morale considerably, and I can’t deny that this loss has affected my better judgment. It has been almost two years since I’ve been on the job market and there were certain lessons that have been forgotten since my last foray.

A little background to understand my situation. I work as a Software Developer. The field is in considerable demand, and the nature of the workplace environment has given rise to the business of recruiting. Thus, once a programmer places their resume for display, they are often swiftly besieged by phone calls and soliciting emails. Swarms of headhunters descend upon us, individuals with no concept of timing or personal space. There are only a couple, and I strictly mean only two, whom with I’ve developed any rapport. That is how rarely it is to be treated well in the placement industry.

Last week, I took the call from a random recruiter I had never met before. Out of the many, this one proved tenacious in speaking for a particular client, insisting without modesty that everyone placed under this employer never quit, the turnover nonexistent. When I tried to discuss salary, my position was battered down to the absolute minimum of what I would accept. I eventually agreed to be submitted as a potential candidate.

The recruiter, with unyielding optimism, took it upon herself to insist that I maintain a positive attitude. This sentiment aggravated me, but I said nothing.

I was submitted and the day hadn’t passed when the client showed interest. Shortly thereafter, I was invited to a phone screening with the manager. The process took roughly 40 minutes, and I nothing about the call bothered me. I actually wasn’t dissuaded by the manager, which piqued my curiosity about the job in question. I agreed to a face to face.

But shortly after, there were red flags. The first interview had to be postponed due to a patch release. I understood. Server updates aren’t always routine affairs and there are plenty of possible pitfalls. But I perked my brow when the recruiter emailed me asking how the interview went, oblivious to the rescheduling.

The weather and other circumstances caused a series of rain checks. And each time, the recruiter contacted me again, hoping for a placement and the resulting commission. The manager, it seemed, excluded her from the loop, and she further taxed my patience with prods for updates. But the man seemed determined to meet me and persevered.

At last, I went in for the face to face. To their credit, the commute was not bad. But the moment I entered the office, I immediately felt a sense of dread. The lighting was paltry. Entire hallways were converted with incredibly small cubicles, where the cramped employees sat with their backs turned, and their monitors for all to see. There was not even a modest attempt to feign privacy. My spirits sank even further when I entered a conference room barely bigger than a full bath, and was seated sandwiched between the wall and table.

I hadn’t even begun my employment and I utterly detested the work environment.

Are they going to fit you and a laptop in a shoebox? A voice in my head seethed. Did you see those other employees? Droning away in this hole as co-workers pass by, walking this labyrinth of close corridors. Denied sunlight and quiet.

As the interview began, I was informed the process would take two hours, to which I shirked and said that I only had time for one. And the questions immediately started on the wrong foot, as they asked for details of the smallest features that developers use and never really think about. On the job, we never really worry about this issues because the answers are just a Google search away or consorting through Stack Overflow questions. A good developer is heuristic.

Let me get this straight. That voice echoed in my psyche again. They’re expecting you to fight, grovel and struggle to prove what you know, just so you can sketch out an existence in this shit hole? For less than you want?

And no matter how dark that voice sounded, I realized it was right. I could sit there and smile, nodding my head, wasting time in my ever dwindling life, scrapping my brain to obtain answers for something undesirable. Or I could take a stand.

I stopped the interview. And I told the manager, point blank, that I didn’t want to work there.

The manager, who needed perhaps two seconds to get over his initial shock at what is effectively a powerful insult, responded tactfully. “That’s fine. It’s best not to waste either of our time.”

He of course showed me the door, guiding me with both swiftness and silence to the office entrance. He didn’t even bother to escort me back to the lobby. As I walked out of the building, I sent the recruiter an email informing them that the interview went south. She responded with an immediate phone call, completely failing to understand or even listen to the problems. All she knew were the statistics, how no one placed in this agency was ever dissatisfied. And of course when I told her what had happened, she informed me that her recruitment firm could never represent me again.

I asked her if she had even been to the site. She said she had not. When I tried to explain my grievances in detail, she ignored them, screaming over the phone, “You burned bridges!”

Then let them burn, the voice responded. To her, you’re nothing but coal she’s shoveling into the furnace anyway.

At this point, I told her to go fuck herself, and hung up.

My disappointment with myself wasn’t because of how the interview went. Or even my handling of the recruiter. It was because I let myself be dragged into this situation. I should have listened to my gut and told the recruiter no. I should have known that the eternal optimist is often terrible at empathy. I’m tired of not caring.

And honestly, I just want something I can be passionate about again. I won’t allow myself to do this again. But I also won’t be put in this situation again, either.

KickStarter Updates and Citadels

I really prefer to post on Tuesday and Thursday. But some weeks, that’s just not possible. Too much going on can keep me from getting my thoughts down. This week it was coding assignments on my other blog, Mad Tech-Priest. I have this new thing where whenever someone challenges me to do a coding test, I put the answer up there just to prove I know my stuff and look really… cool, I guess.

You got me. I don’t know what cool is.

So first the news, and not the boring kind. The Conan board game finished it’s KickStarter round of funding two days ago, and it was a whooping $3.3 million. This makes the game the most successfully funded board game in KickStarter history. Yes, I went ahead and bought a copy of it after the great fun I’ve tried Citadels with friends. As of late, I feel inclined to try something bold and new. And maybe playing games as Conan is just the way to do it.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is closing in on the $1 million, at which point backers can enjoy the extended mini-campaign at the end. It has 4 days left and (as of this post) about $70,000 more to go. The game is fully funded either way, but one can always hope for a little more. This is going to be a close one.

Speaking of close. Project Scissors: NightCrywhich I covered in my previous blog entry, is starting to rally some. It’s too early to call it a comeback just yet, but the jump in funding for the project has put them just under the half way mark. With 9 days left to go, stranger things can happen.

CitadelsSo as of last weekend, I’ve been playing a new (to me) card game called Citadels. The primary goal of the game is just to build a medieval city using gold pieces. But more than a race, other players have the ability to thwart you as they rush to finish their own towns.

Game play revolves around picking one or two (during 2-3 player games) roles with different abilities, with each role ranked to determine play order. Strategy revolves around what role a player chooses (and thus denies to other players), forcing players to build a careful strategy. While there is a tiny element of chance in the game, as players cannot know what city cards they’ll draw, the randomness is mitigated by being able to choose one of two drawn cards. Thus strategy reigns supreme.

The roles vary in value per each round. The King, for example, allows you to have first pick of roles during the next round. The Assassin can wipe a player’s turn out, while the Merchant can net extra gold for each green market district you possess. Bluffing is valuable because if one player grows abusive with a particular role, such as using the Warlord to destroy rival districts, that player might find himself the target of the Assassin. Or the Architect might have his gold stolen by the Thief to keep him from suddenly building three districts.

A final detail is that while getting all 8 districts of your city built gives you extra points, it does not guarantee that you’ll win the game. There are plenty of cheap, low value districts that can speed a player to the finishing line. But it’s the total value and combination of all districts that determines the winner. If one player builds several high value districts while another gets eight lower value ones, that player still might not win. This can make for some interesting back peddling later, forcing the owner of the cheaper citadel to react and increase their value.

Three more things give Citadels great value. First, it can be played for up to 8 players, making it a fantastic party game. Second, I was able to purchase it for $20, which included its expansion set. And third, the game really isn’t difficult to learn, although the rules change slightly depending on the number of players who have joined. So if you’re looking for some fun for the remainder of this winter, check it out.

Project Scissors: Night Cry KickStarter

NightCryA crime is coming rather close to being committed. And the penalty for letting it occur is to be very, very bored next winter.

You may not be familiar with their names, but if you’re a gamer from the SNES to PlayStation era, you’ll certainly know their work. Hifumi Kono, creator of the Clock Tower series, has teamed up with Takashi Shimizu, director of The Grudge to form Project Scissors.

And while that’s a great start to the talent for a horror game, it’s further compounded by Art Director Kiyoshi Arai (several Final Fantasy games), Creature Designer Masahiro Ito (Silent Hill). And musically speaking, composers Nobuko Toda and Michiru Yamane (Metal Gear Solid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night respectively).

The resulting KickStarter game is called Night Cry.

A spiritual successor to Kono’s Clock Tower, the idea revolves around exploration, perhaps some puzzles, and ultimately running and hiding instead of fighting a foe that stalks you. Thus survival is yet another mind bending challenge.

Originally intended for mobile devices, enough fans pushed until the project was changed for release on the PC. But despite the promising amount of talent and the fair game price, they’re suffering from a lack of funds. More than a third of the allotted time has elapsed, and with roughly 20% of their $300,000 goal met. One possible reason for this is the fact the game is being released only in English at the moment and not Japan, which leaves it primarily to the English speaking countries to pick up the slack.

I went ahead and pitched $25 towards it, and I recommend that any horror fans out there do the same. For horror to live on, it has to be left to the artist and not made corporate. Lest we get another Dead Space 3 on our hands.

But that’s not the only item of Japanese influence on KickStarter.

SamuraiAfter some digging, I found something for war gamers, or just people who want some eastern flair to their table top games. Check out this nifty Samurai Lords KickStarter from Oliver James. These awesome pieces are based on the Battle of Sekigahara, and are more historic in detail than fantasy focused.

While I’m not sure there will be enough figures to fill out an entire table for war games, it does strike me as a great way to get a samurai character or two for specialty pen and paper RPGs or perhaps even some modding for Shadowrun or Warhammer/Warhammer 40k games.

So check these out, folks.